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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

Did William Morris Know Clay Shaw as Clay Bertrand?

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

Kevin Bacon played Willie O'Keefe in the film, JFK. O'Keefe was a composite character based upon Perry Russo, William Morris, Raymond Broshears, and David Logan.

James DiEugenio, in his book Destiny Betrayed, writes: (page 210)

"Finally, a man named William Morris signed an affidavit saying he knew Shaw as Clay Bertrand. And the underlying message was that this was common knowledge."

His source is Jim Garrison's book, On The Trail of The Assassins: (page 86)

"Gradually, my men began encountering one person after another in the French Quarter who confirmed that it was common knowledge that "Clay Bertrand" was the name Clay Shaw went by. However, no one would authorize the use of his name or even sign a statement to be kept confidential. No one wanted to get involved. This was quite curious considering Shaw's reputation throughout the city as a man of decorum and distinction.
Finally, we located a young man named William Morris who had met Shaw at the Masquerade Bar on St. Louis Street in the French Quarter. He had been introduced to Shaw by Gene Davis, who worked at the Court of Two Sisters. Davis had introduced Shaw to Morris as "Clay Bertrand." Morris had become a friend of Shaw's, not only visiting Shaw's apartment, but encountering him at one private party and, on occasion, again at the Masquerade Bar. Morris said that his tall friend was always referred to as Bertrand."

Garrison changes the chronology of events in his book. He claims that they found William Morris before Shaw was arrested. That is not true. He only came forward after Shaw was arrested on March 1, 1967. Morris was questioned in July of 1967:

Some comments on the interview with William Morris:

  1. Morris saw Clay Shaw's picture on television in relation to the Jim Garrison case.

  2. Morris said that Clay Bertrand was shorter than he was - and Morris was 6' or 6' 0.5", while Clay Shaw was 6'4".

  3. Morris said Clay Bertrand was in his middle 30s in 1958, but Clay Shaw was 45 years old in 1958. He also said that Clay Bertrand weighed 180 lbs., but Clay Shaw weighed about 225 lbs.

  4. Clay Bertrand came to his apartment by mistake in 1960 with Jack Ruby.

  5. Morris had already been in prison for seven years when this interview took place.

  6. Morris named a few other people who supposedly knew Shaw as Bertrand (Walter Wilson, Amos McFarlan, Candy Lee) but none of them came forward with a supporting statement.

Eugene Davis denied knowing Clay Shaw. He testified before the grand jury on June 28, 1967 - which is before Morris was interviewed in prison:

Garrison did not challenge Davis when he denied knowing Shaw.

Eugene Davis was then interviewed on July 21, 1967 about William Morris:

Some comments on the Eugene Davis interview:

  1. Gene Davis has lived at 522 Dauphine for many years; while he did live on Bourbon Street, it was before William Morris was in New Orleans.

  2. He denied, once again that he knew Clay Shaw.

  3. He had never been on Bill Boon's yacht.

  4. He tells Boxley, Martin and Meloche that "there is no part of this accusation which is true." (page 9)

Davis also tells them that he never heard of Bertrand until the investigation of Clay Shaw. Interestingly, Eugene Davis was called as a prosecution witness in Dean Andrews' trial for perjury. Here is an excerpt of his testimony as recorded by the New Orleans Times-Picayune of August 14, 1967:

This is important - Davis was testifying for the prosecution. And under oath he is saying that he never heard of Clay Bertrand until the investigation. And if it was really common knowledge that Shaw was Bertrand, then wouldn't Eugene Davis know it? After all, he worked at different gay bars in the Quarter and he was the owner of Wanda's.

As for Bill Boon, he seemed to be afraid of the D. A.'s office, and with good reason. Here is the notice of the crime against nature charge against Bill Boon from the July 15, 1967 issue of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Eugene Davis tried to contact Bill Boon to get him to speak to the D. A.'s office.

Bill Boon then telephoned Garrison's office on August 14, 1967, and then he immediately drove to New Orleans to answer questions:

Bill Boon did have a yacht, and perhaps William Morris had been on it at some time. Boon denied that Eugene Davis had ever been on board his boat.

Morris no doubt knew of Davis and Boon - in fact, he spoke to Garrison's investigators a few weeks after Dean Andrews had told the press that "Clay Bertrand" was a cover name for Eugene Davis. And we know that Morris was knowledgeable about the investigation.

I don't know if they ever interviewed W. T. Wilson. But I doubt it. The Morris lead was not included in Garrison's list of leads to reinvestigate after the Clay Shaw acquittal, and the lead was not included in his list sent to the HSCA.

William Morris is just another one of the many prisoners who contacted Garrison's office. It's not surprising that William Morris was not a witness at Clay Shaw's trial.

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